Michael Chiesa was recently on the UFC Unfiltered podcast to talk about his upcoming co-main event fight against Rafael dos Anjos at UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. dos Santos, which takes place this Saturday, Jan. 25 in Raleigh, North Carolina.
A large part of the discussion with Chiesa and the two hosts, former UFC Welterweight Champion Matt Serra and comedian Jim Norton, was about Chiesa’s decision to move up a weight division, from the 155-pound lightweight division to the 170-pound welterweight division.
There has been an on-going debate in MMA about if athletes should be cutting a lot of weight to be the bigger fighter, or if they should cut less weight and avoid depleting their body as much. Chiesa is part of a crop of fighters that have moved up a weight class in the past few years to decrease the toll weight cutting takes on the body.
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Michael Chiesa Drew Inspiration From Dustin Poirier Changing Weight Classes
When Norton asked Chiesa about the trend of all these fighters moving up to a new weight class, Chiesa spoke on his experience of why he moved up in the first place.
“I don’t think it’s really a trend. I think it’s just guys leading the charge. For me, it was watching Dustin Poirier. He was a huge [145 pounder]. He is even still a big, barrel-chested [155 pounder]. And I see the success he has going up [a] weight class.”
Dustin Poirier fought at featherweight for the first part of his UFC career, going 8-3 in the Octagon. But, after a first-round TKO loss to Conor McGregor in 2014, Poirier decided to try his hand at lightweight. Since then, Poirier has gone 9-2 with one no-contest, won the interim UFC lightweight belt at one point, and has been an advocate for fighters to avoid major weight cutting.
Chiesa then gets into the mentality that he had when he was coming up as a fighter, starting back in 2008. Chiesa had the mindset that he needed to spar as many rounds as possible, and to cut as much weight as he could, to be the bigger man, before stepping into the cage.
However, Chiesa tells Norton and Serra that he is “starting to learn that’s really not true.” He says that it is not a “testament to [his] skills.”
He theorizes that he may be part of the “new guard.” Chiesa tells Serra and Norton that there seems to be a mentality switch that some fighters have made to be more mindful of how certain training elements and strategies affect the body. He believes that this weight change for him has been critical and that he thinks that the best version of himself is competing at welterweight.
The last time Chiesa was scheduled for a lightweight fight, he missed weight by 1.5 pounds, and he ended up losing that fight to Anthony Pettis. After that defeat, he moved up to welterweight. Since the change in weight class, he has fought and won twice, which includes a submission win over former interim UFC Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit, as well as a dominant performance over Diego Sanchez.
On Saturday, Jan. 25, Chiesa is taking on another man that has moved up from lightweight, the former UFC Lightweight Champion Rafael dos Anjos, at UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. dos Santos.